While congressional elections may not capture the national imagination in same way that presidential elections do, they are just as important. These elections should determine the membership and direction of Congress, which was intended to be the branch "first among equals" in our national government. Too often, however, congressional elections are uncompetitive, leaving voters disenchanted, with little power too choose their representation, and few reasons to turn out to vote.
FairVote’s Monopoly Politics reports present in-depth analysis of U.S. House elections and the structural origins of the polarization, partisan bias, and striking lack of competition that plague Congressional politics. The report also lays out a detailed national reform plan to illustrate how adoption of the RCV Act would address these problems and empower all voters to have their voices heard on Election Day.
Accompanying the report are projections for US House races, which illustrate the absence of meaningful competition in nearly all of these elections.
First issued in 1994 and issued every two years thereafter, Dubious Democracy provides a comprehensive quantitative assessment of the level of competition, rate of voter participation, and accuracy of representation in elections to the U.S. House of Representatives in all 50 states. With analysis of data since 1982, the report ranks each state on a "democracy index" that is a relative measurement based on average margin of victory, percentage of seats to votes, how many voters elect candidates and number of House races won by overwhelming landslides.
Dubious Democracy provides one overriding insight: Although our constitutional framers gave the House of Representatives extraordinary powers and, of all the branches of government, the clearest accountability to the American people, that accountability has been destroyed beyond recognition by winner-take-all election rules that magnify the power of campaign spending, incumbency advantage and redistricting.
Dubious Democracy 2016 highlights the chronic lack of competition and accountability in 2016 U.S. House elections across the nation. Overall 15.2% of House races were uncontested, and 73.8% were landslide victories. Moreover, in an extremely tight election nationally, Republicans won 6.3% more seats than their percentage of the national vote would indicate, while Democrats won 3.4% less.
Click the links below to find our past Dubious Democracy datasets.
The authority of our government is grounded in the power of the people to choose their representatives. No Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, "The People's House," has ever taken office without an election. The U.S. Senate is now also a house of the people. Though the 17th Amendment to the Constitution requires election of all senators, it also gives states the option to fill vacancies by gubernatorial appointment, and no federal mechanism exists to guarantee that all U.S. Senators – just as is the case for all U.S. House Members – serve via democratic processes. Since the passage of the 17th amendment, almost a quarter of all U.S. Senators who have ever served were originally appointed, and today about a quarter of the U.S. population is represented by at least one senator that no one voted for.
FairVote believes that all Members of Congress, in both houses, should be solely accountable to the voters of their states and districts, not to a sole individual with his or her own personal and political agenda. Instead of filling vacancies through shady backroom deals, seats in the U.S. Senate should be filled, in all circumstances, by direct election.